At camp you meet new people; it almost goes without saying. It’s also a given that those people are going to be different from you. We love that.
Summer Camp has a reputation for starting lifelong friendships. Even if a camper comes back year after year, odds are really good that he or she will be in a cabin with some kids they’ve never met before. And it’s guaranteed there will be new faces in their program. Sometimes those new relationships at camp result in an instant positive connection and a strong new friendship is born. Other times, kids don’t mix perfectly but get along just fine and simply have a fun week of camp around each other. Then, of course, there are times in which campers don’t mix well. Usually, those rare scenarios result in kids being able to give each other space and simply do camp with other friends, separate from one another – but there are definitely times when things come to a head.
We try to avoid conflict at camp. We see our primary job to be to provide a safe, fun time for every camper that shows up, but in the inevitable times when conflict arises our staff steps in to bring resolution and encourage growth. While we wouldn’t choose interpersonal conflict for any of our campers, we value the chance to help them learn more about the world and themselves when conflicts arise. So, when campers argue, we take the opportunity to help them see the other point of view. In the very rare instance when a conflict between kids gets physical (we first ensure that all parties feel safe and cared for), we take the opportunity to explain the futility of solving interpersonal problems that way.
It’s hard to describe our plans for conflict in general terms, since each situation is different. We take the safety and comfort of our campers very seriously. Once that’s provided, we try to make the most of tough situations by encouraging learning and growth.
But most relationships at camp aren’t that complex. Usually, camp allows campers to meet people they’d never otherwise come across, and it goes great! Camp provides exposure to other cultures, nationalities, traditions, and personalities. It’s easy to get comfortable with your normal group of people and not realize that it’s been a long time since a new influence has challenged your perspective (this is especially true for kids). Camp is a place where new relationships and connections are formed organically and safely. Who knows who you might meet?!
Blog series by Brad Hutchison.
Covenant Harbor is accredited by ACA (American Camp Association) and a member of the CCCA (Christian Camp and Conference Association) organization.